You Did What? Where? How Many Times? Whoa…

Saturday, 1:29pm
Austin, Republic of Texas
We’re the Free Texican Airforce, and we’re flying tonight…” (Peter Rowan)

Howdy…

Okay, first off, I’m not in Austin yet.

I’m in Reno… but I’m preparing for flying into Austin Monday by keeping the oven on in the kitchen, while boiling four pans of water on the stove.  Cuz it’s hotttttttt down there.

I’m a dry-heat kinda desert rat.  We’re a mile up here in the biggest little city, and the idea of walking out onto the broiling tarmac of Bergstrom International — where it’s rumored to be topping 107 this time o’ year — is not fitting easily into my brain.

Now, I’ve spent months in the Florida Keys, on full-tilt boil, back when Gary Halbert insisted on moving down there (first to Marathon — or “Cleveland in the Keys” — and then to Key West — or “Key West”, which is another concept hard to fathom for anyone who’s never experienced it first-hand).  (Trust me on that.)

But, like childbirth, you forget the details once the ordeal is behind you.  (Or so I hear. Never been pregnant myself.)

So, the closest I’ve been to that kind of super-heat in the past few years… has been during a long, soothing shower.  While it’s snowing outside here in the bosom of the Sierra Nevadas.

Whatever.  I’m going, because I’m speaking at an event alongside the likes of Joe Sugarman, Joe Polish, Bill Phillips, Chris Guerrero and other notables at a very nice event hosted by our pal Josh Bezoni.

And it’s gonna be fun hanging out with those nutballs.

I’ll also collapse and die at some point in the heat, of course, but I’ll have a smile on my mug.

I recall a joke a guy once told me, while we were both sipping Lone Stars: “Marry a Texas girl.  No matter how bad it gets, she’s seen worse.”

I’m not sure why (or if) that’s funny… but it gets a belly-guffaw every time I repeat it.  My mother’s side has a lot of Texas in ‘em (Muleshoe, Galveston, and them parts).

And I went through Austin back in ’76 (last century) during a trek from Cape Canaveral, through ‘Bama and N’Orleans and the breadth of Tejas to Los Angeles.  I helped a friend drive a Pinto his folks gave him back to the West Coast.  I can bend your ear for four days with stories from that 2-week trip, but few of them can be repeated until a whole bunch of people die.  Just too gruesome, embarrassing and reputation-damaging.

In other words, a totally awesome adventure.

Where was I?

Oh, yeah.  Texas.  Which has absolutely nothing to do with today’s post.

Here’s what I meant to write about: People constantly ask me for simple tips to write copy that persuades.

And on my Facebook page (what?!? You’re not a friend yet?  Are you insane?) I like to drop lots of easy shortcuts.  However, I often cloak them in riddles or inanity.

People seem to learn better when not lectured to, but rather teased and forced to think.

But get this: In the process of reminding folks about the value of journalism when communicating with prospects…

… I sorta accidentally came up with a VERY cool new twist on a traditional rule…

… that just may be the Mother Of All Shortcuts to writing killer ads.

Wanna hear it?

(Our Afghan hound, who we just shaved so she could better handle the Reno “heat”, just shuffled by my office looking miffed about the discomfort of the Nevada summer… and it’s, what, 74 in here with the A/C cranked?  I’m headed for 107 and 80% humidity, and the DOG is unhappy in this comfy climate-controlled house?

I am so dead when I get off that plane…)

Well?  You want the shortcut or not?

Okay, here it is: The fundamental rule of journalism (which you should have been taught in grade school, had you existed in the parellel universe where the American education system hasn’t been degraded and murdered) is to communicate the “essence” of a story as succinctly as possible…

… so that even skimmers can get the specifics.

You’re excused if you’re young enough to not remember when newspapers and real TV newscasts dominated the info media world.  Pre-Grid, and yes, I understand how difficult that concept is to get your brain around today.

And even if you currently read newspapers (say, online) you may be hearing about this rule for the first time…

… because journalism is now into it’s second generation of pure, unadulterated FAIL and suckiness.  Reporters now consider their opinion and personal experience to trump the need to disseminate actual news.  (But that’s a rant for another time.)

That basic journalism rule for reporting is to make sure you deliver on the “who, what, where, why, when and how” of the story as promptly as possible.  “Mayor Flytwaddle, speaking to reporters from his office downtown yesterday afternoon, insisted he did not know the dead hooker found in his secret apartment last night, despite the discovery of his handwritten check for $75 in her purse, nor could he explain how she had a key.”

Or something like that.

The key is communication of the specifics… MINUS all external bullshit (like the reporter’s opinion, political spin, or personal context).

Just the facts, m’am.  As Sgt. Friday used to say.

When it’s done right, you come away from reading a story (by a crack reporter) knowing as much as anyone.  And if someone’s hiding something, you know that’s the case, too.

You are informed.  You are hip.  You are The Man.

Most folks, untrained in allocating and delivering basic information, can instantly transform their ability to communicate clearly just by having this checklist tattooed on their forearm, and going down the list as they speak.

So, instead of “Dude!  It was, like, totally awesome!“…

… you get: “So, yesterday afternoon, Jimbo and I were at the park practicing Frisbee golf, when this sheriff’s helicopter landed right next to the statue of General Lee. We overheard a cop say the tail rotor was wobbly, so they needed to do an emergency landing, and nobody was hurt…”

Now, yes, there is some argument to be made that a primal form of “essence” associated with the experience is actually contained in “Dude! It was, like, totally awesome!“.

But “essence” isn’t communication.

As a professional communicator — the raw definition of a good marketer — you can’t rely on dude-speak to persuade anyone to buy your shit.

Thus, this simple journalism tool really can shortcut you into being a better salesman.

However…

I’ve come up with an even more awesome (awesomer?) way to use this checklist.

First, make sure sure you deliver (in your ads) on the “5 W’s + H” basics:

1. Be clear on who you are, and who your intended audience is.  You want to identify yourself to strangers, and remind your fans… and you want to be clear on the needs, fears and dreams of your prospect.

2. Have a freakin’ point.  Be able to simply explain what you’ve got that is so special, it requires an ad.

3. If there’s a deadline for acting, say when it is.  (Classic old-school blunder was placing a print ad for a gazillion bucks in a big newspaper, and forgetting to say when an event was being held.)  (Second only to the more common botch-up of printing the wrong phone number.)

4. There is always a “where“, too… whether it’s virtual and online, or in the real world (like at a hotel in the middle of Texas, where even the armadillos won’t leave the shade when it’s 107).  You want to give your reader a sense of “place”.  Our brains are still wired for jungle living, so help folks undertand if travel is required, virtually via the mouse or in the sky via jets.

5. Explain why it’s so important to hear your message, and to possess whatever crap you’re pitching.

6. Finally, tell me how to get this ball rolling.

So, as your reader, all my questions are answered (to whatever degree of satisfaction I require), and I’m able to release the lock on my greed glands and get busy getting what you got.

But wait…

… I’m adding one more “W”:

7. Take a hint from the tabloids like Weekly World News and the NY Post…

… and add some “whoa” to your tale.

Meaning — shoehorn a truly startling hook or twist that causes me to say “Whoa!  What up with that?

For an ad to be world-class good, it has to be the best thing your prospect reads or hears today.  It’s got to lay out the basics, yes…

… but more important, it’s got to grab attention, hold it, and deliver on being something that was worth waking up from his zombie-like daze and hauling out his wallet for.

Thus… it’s who, what, why, where, when, how…

… and whoa!

Journalism profs, please take note of this change in the curriculum.

Okay, love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.  If I don’t answer promptly, it’s because I’m melted near the Rio Grande.  Might take some time to reconstitute my DNA…

Stay frosty (cuz I ain’t gonna be able to),

John

P.S. Wait… almost forgot.

Speaking of Gary Halbert…

His sons, Kevin and Bond (who I’ve known since they were kids), have recently discovered the Motherlode of lost Halbert recordings: A teeming collection of consultations, Hot Seats, and pure raw advice he ladled out during the red-hot peak of his marketing prowess.

And guess what?

I’m on the recordings, too.  I vaguely remember a series of events down in Santa Monica, where a group of Gary’s subscribers gathered and dove headlong into the specifics of marketing, salesmanship, copywriting and everything else on the subject of rapid, almost embarrassingly-fast success in business ventures.

Jay Abraham popped in, too.

These recordings were pretty much forgotten by most of us… and lost to the world… until Kevin and Bond discovered them in Gary’s messy, chaotic pile of amazement left behind when he went to that great Algonquin Table in the sky.

It’s priceless treasure for ANYONE looking for the source of modern marketing genius.

There ain’t nothing new in how stuff is sold online… and, truth be told, nearly all the tactics used today are just slightly modified from the way pioneers like Halbert made them work for entrepreneurs years ago.

And if you’re already a Halbert fan…

… well, ’nuff said.  What the boys have for you here is a jam-packed mini-library of Gary’s brilliance and innovation… all in one tidy package that — for some strange reason — they’re offering for chump change right now.

Don’t take my word for it.  Just go here to see what’s up:

Halbert’s Secret Stash

Gary was my main mentor… and my good friend for a couple of savagely-hilarious and stunningly-profitable decades.

I haven’t been able to listen to anything we did together since he died.  Just too painful.

So I’m not kidding when I tell you I trembled a bit popping the first CD in.  And it was pure “whoa!

I miss the dude, but I am SO thankful these recordings have been found, and it’s just bliss to be able to hear (and learn again) from my old pal.

Longtime Halbert fans will immediately understand why these recordings are so freakin’ valuable.  Newcomers need to see what the fuss is about right now.

Don’t dink around.  Just check it out.

If you’re lucky, I’ll survive Austin and be back here in a week or so…

56 Responses to You Did What? Where? How Many Times? Whoa…

  1. John, thanks for the timely, and well-honed tips.

    I just sent an email out to my list–thinking…”was all of that in the one I just sent?”

    Probably not.

    The trick is to let those 5 W’s flow the right way.

    Here’s why you’ll wan to get this…

    It’s only available online for the next 3 days b/c we’ve run out of medicine and the inmates are getting cranky…

    It will be rushed to your door-and don’t worry- you won’t have to sign for it.

    Like that? hmmm.

    The flow of all those W’s is the trick.

    Right?

    • John Carlton says:

      How the heck do you manage to be the first comment every time, Lawton? You should get into politics or something…

      Yeah, the checklist here isn’t ALWAYS perfect for all emails… but you want to run through it every time anyway. It’s just a back-up for when your memory fails you.

      I’m serious about those classic blunders advertisers make — they forget to put in the most obvious and essential stuff… because they just don’t double-check.

      Thanks for the note.

      • Carlen Maddux says:

        There’s already been a Lawton Chiles in politics… the late governor and senator from Florida.

        Thanks, John… good stuff. I was in biz journalism for several years before trying my hand at copywriting. There’s some real similarities, but as you know there’s some real differences too.

        Thanks for reminding me of the basics.

  2. G says:

    Just purchased my of the brainstorming sessions :-)

    John, ever thought about selling your old marketing rebel rants

    -or-

    your scuttlebutt series?

    • John Carlton says:

      Hi G — I have a “Best Of The Rant” book nearly ready for dispersal, loaded with around 18 only slightly-edited newsletters. Flashman helped me put it together, and it’s almost over the hump…

      Stay tuned to the blog for further announcements…

  3. There’s an old wooden ruler from my Catholic grammar school that I use to keep myself in check when too many parenthetical statements show up in my copy.

    I couldn’t help laughing at your continued use of parentheses. Sweet relief!

    This is great information that any communicator can put to use TODAY.

    Kipling’s six serving men are just as honest now as they’ve ever been. And because so few people consistently put them to work, anyone who understands and uses “5Ws + H” will instantly set themselves apart from the masses who talk (or write) a lot without saying much.

    Good stuff.

    Crap! I used a parenthesis again. Where’d that ruler go…

    • John Carlton says:

      LOL, Donnie. Actually, I somehow got shuttled out of basic English after the 7th grade (I asked too many questions), and I never learned formal grammar. So when I got into advertising, and realized I could write the way I felt best communicated — rather than the way that best conformed to rigid grammar rules — I just started writing using all the tools I feel offer the simplest path to “getting” what is written…

      … and damn the grammar.

      I’ve abandoned semi-colons altogether — don’t think I’ve used on in 20 years. I use the elipsis to clarify connected, but significantly different phrases. And I LOVE street slang.

      I’ve had English teachers write to me, nearly sputtering in horror and utterly appalled at the way I tweak and twist the English language. And yet, they have to admit that I’m easier to read than stuff conforming to strict usage rules.

      So fuck ‘em. I’ve got ten thousand parentheses left in my tool kit, and I’m gonna use every single one before I’m through.

      Sorry about your knuckles, there…

  4. Terry Gibbs says:

    I have a list Joe Polish gave me about 10 years ago hanging over my desk. Six questions for communicating:
    Who am I communicating with?
    What are the obstacles to them listening?
    What do I want them to remember?
    How do I want them to feel when they are done listening?
    What is the value I’m providing?
    And lastly, What do I want from the listener.

    Joe gave me that when I started doing interviews with the suggestion that answering those questions while I wrote the outline would improve my ability to connect with my listeners. It did.

    I still refer to the sheet often. In fact looking at the board it’s been hanging there longer than anything else, and only has the corner of a car title blocking it.

    • Terry Gibbs says:

      PS. My dog goes outside and lays on the asphalt when it’s 112 degrees.

      • John Carlton says:

        Your dog is an idiot, too, then (though I’m sure he’s a lovely animal, and you know I adore dogs).

        But that behavior you describe is psychotic. He’s cooking himself!

        (My Jack Russell enjoys a couple sips of beer after a long romp outside. And a dog biscuit. I hope, for just 5 freaking minutes in my life, I can be as happy as that dog before I die…

        • Terry Gibbs says:

          I think I manage to be as happy as the dog for a few minutes at a time.

          Part of the secret is to be dumb and friendly. If you’ve known a yellow lab you know what I mean. I can find this place by repeating nonsense sayings, like “I had a peanut butter sandwich.” It seems like every time I repeat that line I knock off 5 IQ points.

          Another part of being happy comes from living in the moment and enjoying what you have. Pudgy – She’s a 7 month old min pin – goes outside at night looking for entertainment. This could be a neighbor, a palmetto beetle or other bug to torment then eat, or just watching people go by.

          While the palmetto beetles seem to be her favorite based on the difficulty in distracting her when she’s got one, anything that occupies her is front and center.

          I don’t want to write too much because I have plans for tonight, but another very important determinate of happiness is a sense of security. When I got Pudgy, she would howl as if she was being dismembered when she was left alone. As she’s gotten older she’s learned that when I leave, I’ll come back.

          Then again, pudgy seems to be very happy eating used tissues out of the garbage can in the bathroom so maybe all that’s needed is something to occupy her.

          • John Carlton says:

            Good stuff, Terry. I like the idea of Zen-acknowledging the peanut butter sandwich (one of my daily pleasures, btw — right now I’ve got a tub of the pure, organic stuff from Whole Paycheck… about as fresh and straight from the grinder you can get… with toasted sourdough, OMG).

            My JRT also devours tissue. What’s up with that? All of our beasts are rescues, so they take it personally when I travel anywhere, but all is forgiven seconds after I come back, no matter how long I’ve been gone. That’s an attitude more humans could cultivate, tell you what…

        • In Cambodia they say that black dogs are unlucky becuase they taste better. My therory is that they are slow cooked over there life time being in the sun. Is Terry’s Dog for sale by any chance?

  5. Marc says:

    Damn … I thought I had the only dog that dug wolfing down tissue paper. Bizarre mix of an Australian Shepherd and a Red Healer. Spots, stripes, spangles and constellations everywhere.

    And it never matters what surprises the tissue contains. It could be … Okay. I’ll spare y’all.

    But the truly awe-inspiring result is stool that resembles papier-mâché art. Some of the sculptures Roscoe leaves in the yard have lead to some of my best abstract photography.

    And that’s not all the weird stuff he does. I’ve got an ottoman, leather, mind you … that Ross has raped so many times it had to be placed in counseling.

    Don’t let your you-know-what stick to your leg for too long down south there, J.C. You’ll never get it unattached in time. If you know what I mean.

    Doc

  6. Ken Ca|houn says:

    Although I always do the 5 w’s/h stuff, I like the “whoa” idea, I’ll remember that, thanks (though I’ll label it the ‘wtf?!” myself, being an uber-otaku lol). What grabs the reader by the lapel and shakes them outta their somnabulent slothlike state, as J would say.

    Our 4 year old shih-tsu “doji” agrees. Definitely a dog person here, gotta love the little folks. She’s always there for us, can’t ask for more.

  7. Come on in dude, the water’s fine.

    Warm, but fine.

    Looking forward to tearing up this seminar.

    See you in Austin.

    -Flashman

    • John Carlton says:

      Yeah, there are several story threads burbling around in my brain over that trip… gotta be careful about people’s reputations, of course, but I suspect I’ll be sharing some tales soon…

      But good God, it was HOT…

  8. Kevin Rogers says:

    Fine piece, JC.

    And as guy who spent my “some college” years electing journalism courses… digging deep into 60′s New Journalism of legends like Talese, Wolfe, Capote, Thompson et al. (Talese’s “Frank Sinatra Has a Cold” is still the best profile of “the Chairman” in existence)… I couldn’t agree more that the principles of great copy are rooted in the tried and true five dub formula.

    What no NLP?

    Not really. Unless the fancy terms make you feel better – more sophisticated.

    Me? I’ll take a hearty action verb over a carefully aligned “perceptual positioning” any day.

    Enjoy Austin. Not far from the George W. Bush library. I hear it has an amazing selection of pop-up books.

    • Ken Ca|houn says:

      big Sinatra fan, so thx Kevin for that reference, just looked it up, great read at:

      http://www.esquire.com/features/ESQ1003-OCT_SINATRA_rev_

      • John Carlton says:

        I’ve got my iTunes front-loaded with “Fly Me To The Moon” and other gems from that fifties era of The Chairman… just classic stuff that puts a smile on your face and makes you wanna get a hair cut, a sharkskin suit, and a hipster hat so you can look good snapping your fingers on the street…

        • Ken Ca|houn says:

          When i used to karaoke at clubs I’d always try sing Sinatra songs.. I like “Night and Day” a lot. Just re-watched two of my favorite Sinatra movies this weekend, “High Society” and “Marriage on the Rocks”, both A+ movies. The man had style.

  9. Jeff says:

    Thanks for the solid post. Of course, it immediately brought to mind this bit from the book, Made to Stick (recommended, by the way):

    “Ephron started her career as a journalist and still remembers the first day of her journalism class. Although the students had no journalism experience, they walked into their first class with a sense of what a journalist does: A journalist gets the facts and reports them. To get the facts, you track down the five W’s – who, what, where, when and why.

    As students sat in front of their manual typewriters, Ephron’s teacher announced the first assignment. They would write the lead to a newspaper story. The teacher reeled off the facts: “Kenneth L. Peters, the principal of Beverly Hills High School, announced today that the entire high school faculty will travel to Sacramento next Thursday for a colloquium in new teaching methods. Among the speakers will be anthropologist Margaret Mead, college president Dr. Robert Maynard Hutchins, and California governor Edmund ‘Pat’ Brown.”

    The budding journalists sat at their typewriters and pecked away at the first lead of their careers. Ephron and most of the other students produced leads that reordered the facts and condensed them into a single sentence: “Governor Pat Brown, Margaret Mead, and Robert Maynard Hutchins will address the Beverly Hills faculty Thursday in Sacramento…blah, blah, blah.”

    The teacher collected the leads and scanned them rapidly. Then he laid them aside and paused for a moment.

    Finally, he said, “The lead to the story is ‘There will be no school next Thursday.’”

    “It was a breathtaking moment,” Ephron recalls. “In that instant I realized that journalism was not just about regurgitating the facts, but about figuring out the point. It wasn’t enough to know the who, what, when, and where; you had to understand what it meant. And why it mattered.” For the rest of the year, she says, every assignment had a secret – a hidden point that the students had to figure out in order to produce a good story.”

    I’m not sure how closely your “Whoa Factor” lines up with Nora’s idea of “The Point” but it’s worth pondering over for sure…

    • John Carlton says:

      It’s a VERY apt comparison, Jeff — getting to “the point” is what communication is all about (and what most people screw up, consistently and spectacularly)…

      Thanks for the note.

  10. John – ATX is awesome, I’ve been there 2 x and will return again, the energy of the people there was electric, except the cab drivers, they were all 30 minutes late or perhaps related to Spicoli from ‘Fast Times at Ridgemont High’.

    Have fun in the ATX!!

    –Z–

  11. You want some heat, come on over here to Pensacola you wuss.

    Let me guess big guy. You’re a little over 50 on the 60 side. I know this because growing up in the heat of the south never use to bother me when I was playing in the local swimming hole but now (age 59) all I do is bitch about the heat like the little girl I am.

    Another great post John!… you whiner.

    Mad Guy

    • John Carlton says:

      Yep. I’ve given in totally to my “whiney DNA”. Just goin’ with the biological flow, so to speak…

      Of course, having an audience doesn’t exactly help dampen my urge to regurge. I’m like Larry David, with hair…

  12. Tim says:

    Some great tips on clear compelling writing, thanks. I’ll make sure I use this framework for my writing in future.

    I can’t quite get my head around 107 degrees! In England we get maybe five 80+ degree days and twenty odd 70+ days per year…tops! Good luck with it.

  13. John, get over yourself. I live in north Texas where even my shade garden plants are dying and the only form of life that is proliferating is cat fleas. Yesterday my friend remarked that before she moved to a ranch outside of Austin years ago, she remembers driving a combine through a dusty field in the panhandle one summer when it was 120 degrees. Enjoy your 107, John. It could be worse!

    • John Carlton says:

      I survived. And kissed the ground upon landing back in the sane summer weather of northern Nevada (high 80s, dry, drops 30 degrees after sunset)…

      I suspect Texas pissed off the universe, and is getting some pay-back or something…

  14. Chris Hughes says:

    Hey John,

    This is extremely valuable advice and something that I often would forget when writing my marketing messages. I’m also part of Gen-Y so that could be a reason that I forget these things (never truly learned them in any traditional classes).

    So I thank you for reminding me and helping me grow!
    Chris Hughes

    • John Carlton says:

      You’re welcome, Chris. I’m not entirely serious when I thrash younger generations — there’s a TON of info out there now, and if you don’t have some kind of guide it’s really freakin’ tough to discover the honestly valuable older stuff.

      This is why dinosaurs like me will have a job for life… reminding smart but under-hipified folks what they missed in the crappy education the culture handed them…

  15. Jimmy Curley says:

    John… stellar info here.

    I myself pine for the lost days when journalism wasn’t a matter of “copy and paste” and news people were actually curious, tenacious bastards who did some digging and fact-checking on their own.

    Sigh.

    Now I gotta watch some so-called panel of experts bitterly argue and then “choose sides”. It’s like trying to glean relationship tips from the Jerry Springer show.

    Another thing: I can’t help but feel you were thinking of OHP when you jotted down the parenthetical comment “(Second only to the more common botch-up of printing the wrong phone number.)”.

    Because we did that. Mailed a friggin’ boatload of letters out (yes… using printed letters, envelopes and stamps), for a brand new golf product… then rubbed our hands together and waited for the phones to jingle like cash registers.

    Crickets.

    Soon afterwards we received a call from frazzled (and pissed-off) elderly woman who said she was getting ready to permanently disconnect her phone because she was receiving a flood of calls golfers looking to purchase our product.

    Doh. We had transposed a couple of digits in the phone numbers inside the letters.

    We tried to convince her to “forward” her phone to our phone, or to outright sell us her phone number, or to work as an OHP operator, or blah, blah, blah.

    She wasn’t having any of it. Just wanted us, and our customers, to stop pestering her.

    Point is, it’s MUCH easier to proof-read an ad a few times than to try and fix a wrong phone number or mailing address or web address.

    Another great one John… thanks.

    –JimmyCurley

    • John Carlton says:

      I remember when that phone number botch-up happened, Jimbo. Total chaos.

      But we ALL did it. Halbert had to go find some poor guy with a number in south Arizona whose phone started ringing from a misprint in a newspaper ad in LA. Even the largest mailers have committed this sin — it’s not even a lack of editing, cuz a dozen people can double- and triple-check a phone number and still get it wrong.

      We’re just incompetent shaved apes doing our best to function in a high-tech civilization we neither deserve nor have a clue how to control…

  16. Julie says:

    John,

    Thank you for waking me up from my zombie-like daze at the computer….

    You’ve inspired me to greater heights with your post, so that my post can better.

    Thank you and have fun in Austin!

    Ever been to Houston? We like it hot(ter)!

    • John Carlton says:

      Went to the Astrodome during that same ’76 trip. Back when they had the snow-cone uniforms. Good times…

      I actually love Texas. For all the infuriating crap it pulls, it still has that Other Side that produces wonders like ZZ Top, Jerry Jeff Walker, Kinky Friedman, Peter Rowan, et al…

  17. Kellie Moore says:

    Hi, John,

    Good luck on the trip. I don’t do well in the heat, either, so I sympathize.

    I was editor-in-chief of my high school newspaper. (It was a big deal to me at the time.) I was taught that writing for the “main” news sections, the writer stuck to the 5 W’s, getting as many into the first paragraph as was readable. For the skimmers, just like you stated. The only section in the newspaper that a reporter’s opinion was ever supposed to be read was in the opinion section.

    I still take the actual print newspaper…left at the end of my driveway, ideally under my truck so the delivery boy can giggle to himself as he watches me try to crawl under there in my robe to fetch it. I’m always surprised how many articles in the national and local sections contain opinion and bias. I’ll be adding the Whoa to my inventory. Thanks.

    I have three small dogs – a cocker mix, a terrier mix and a shih-tzu mix. The cocker mix loves crayons. When my daughter was younger and would leave crayons all over the floor, I’d regularly find rainbow-hued poop-shaped sculptures in the back yard. The shih-tzu mix will eat anything – mascara tubes, bubble gum (including the wrapper), laptop power cords. Sometimes I’m surprised he’s lived to see 5 years. And the terrier mix just licks things – her paws, the carpet, the couch, walls, windows, toys. Some days I wonder if she’s worn off the taste buds on her tongue.

  18. Frank Carmen says:

    The very First saying I read from Gary was the Famous Saying: “Copywriting is Salesmanship in Print.”

    The very First concept I learned from Gary was the importance of The Multiple Close {in the Selling process}. Repetition is King!

    Those two revelations Changed the Direction of my Life! In Reality, I was smart enough to recognize a Genius when I ‘saw’ one.

    Gary Halbert was still in L.A. when I was first exposed to him. Chase Revel, who would remain Headquartered in L.A., was the guy who turned me onto Gary. After reading the First Salesletter & Newsletter I got from Gary, he offered a Lifetime membership. I was just starting out, after having experienced a Life changing injury from an accident. So scraping together the $3000.+ was difficult, but I did & I became a “Lifetime Subscriber” to the Famous “Gary Halbert Letter.”

    I never met Gary in Person. My relationship with Gary was a Phone relationship. He gave Lifetime Subscribers a direct phone number to Him.

    The last conversation I had with Gary, was about a Report I was starting to write about Prostate problems.
    I had never forgotten the two or three times he wrote about ‘Paper & Ink Products’ that would always be in demand.

    I had many Phone Conversations with Gary, and I miss having them with Him–to this day!

    Gary Halbert was a very Heavy Guy! He left this World too soon, and I miss him too!

    • John Carlton says:

      Yeah, we all miss Gary. At the seminar, his name was brought up repeatedly and with great reverence, love and admiration. Despite his well-know propensity for being a total loon at times…

  19. David Miller says:

    Hey John,
    Thanks for the post. Always great points to keep in mind, and I guess most importantly, that the message sent is always in an engaging converstaion between the reader and the client. Very handy to have the checklist for a sanity break at the end of building the perfect pitch for a client.
    Enjoy the warmth
    Cheers
    Dave

  20. Janice says:

    Hey John,
    What a RANT!!! I think the heat is already getting to ya, ha ha. I’m in East Texas and the heat is unbearable… It gets worse every year.
    Great post, I always love you’re Rantings…

  21. Jason, CSCS says:

    Thanks for bringing me back down to earth. Too often I get caught up trying out the latest guru and forget about the basics.

    • John Carlton says:

      Well, stop being so fickle, Jason. I’m really the first guru anyone in biz needs to pay attention to, you know. And often, the only one.

      I’m ripped off so much, I’m numb to it. You’ll all miss me when I’m gone, tell you what, though…

  22. Geoff Stock says:

    Hi John, loved the article info and the great story that went with it. When people do my camera course I explain the 4 w’s and a h and how that will help them tell their story. I also begin the thought process, for them, of becoming aware of the shots you need to take that will share the experience and emotion you are feeling at your story event. I believe that may be your “whoa”. Thanks, stay cool. Geoff

  23. Geoff Stock says:

    Sorry trying to take phone calls and do internet at the same time. 5 w’s and an h but now 6 w’s. Oh, I am so confused Geoff

  24. mark grove says:

    Been a while since I read yer’ stuff. When I read this article I felt like I was at my regular day gig as a security officer. The Who,What,When etc… is exactly what I do daily-but you give it the business twist I need for my music site.

    When I read your stuff I feel like I’m back in the 70′s and going to see a real band, but getting a little business advice from a friend, to keep my music biz hummin’.

    I don’t know Halbert’s stuff, just yours and Moffatt’s. I’ll stick to you guys. And keep on workin,writin’ and partying a bit too much once in a while.

    Mark

  25. Scott Powers says:

    I really appreciate the post John. I’m still developing my writing style and love the idea of bringing a little journalism to the table. I was once told that to get a point across and keep readers happy, you take what you wrote and cross out every third word….then do it again.

    Would love me some Austin-style BBQ brisket and a cold one right about now.

    -Scott

    • John Carlton says:

      To my total shame, I did NOT get to eat any Texas Bar-B-Que. I was trapped in a resort far from the “real” Texas… we got some Tex-Mex, which is fine…

      … but I dreamed about that Bar-B-Que after getting home. Just couldn’t pull it off…

      Next time, I’m gorging on it…

  26. Dana Houser says:

    “And I went through Austin back in ’76 (last century) during a trek from Cape Canaveral, through ‘Bama and N’Orleans and the breadth of Tejas to Los Angeles. I helped a friend drive a Pinto his folks gave him back to the West Coast. I can bend your ear for four days with stories from that 2-week trip, but few of them can be repeated until a whole bunch of people die. Just too gruesome, embarrassing and reputation-damaging.

    In other words, a totally awesome adventure.

    Where was I?”

    Looks like we almost lost you here when you started reminiscing about the ‘good ole days.’ How can you not have good stories when a Pinto is involved.

    If the modern day journalist didn’t fill his time slots & stories with opinions, bullshit, opinions and more bullshit how would we ever have 24 hour opinion channels?

    Anyway, it’s good to see the basics still work when the information is true, beneficial and or adds value to people’s lives.

    Now how about some of those Pinto stories?

    -Dana

    • John Carlton says:

      They’re coming. I’m gathering shit for my first autobiography (yeah, I got a couple in me) covering my first 50 years.

      I can still only tell about half the good stories, because I refuse to compromise anyone (and these tales would very MUCH compromise folks in big ways). But the ones I can tell are still freakin’ good…

      Patience…

  27. Bob says:

    Hey John,

    Don’t overheat. Save that for Vegas.

    Bob

    PS Another great post. As usual, no hype. Just the facts. Whoa.

    • John Carlton says:

      I got back fine. It was a great conference, and kudo’s to Josh for putting on a fine soiree. I got to hang out with Joe Sugarman, Joe Polish, and a bunch of other marketers I rarely see anymore…

      I’m back in my office, with my chair over the A/C vent in the floor, still trying to cool off my nether regions…

  28. JG says:

    “Whoa Dude! What is how to awesomenate .. why, now I know how to when the where!”

    Thanks:)
    J

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